"I had raced to raise money for Fred's Team," Komaromy said. "It was a great experience. They put you up at the Plaza Hotel, they brought you over in tour buses to Staten Island for the start of the race and then they brought you over to the kids during the race. When I ran by these sick kids, they were so excited, but I probably spent two or three minutes with them. I wouldn't change a thing."
Komaromy eventually qualified for Boston a number of times but has yet to run in the country's most historic marathon.
"I signed up once and got a hotel room. Just things in life get in the way. That year my husband had to have pretty major back surgery. I was home with him for his recovery," Komaromy said. "Life and your family's health and the conditions all around you all have to line up for you to do well if you're not doing this on a pro athlete's level. My family comes first, and work comes first and there are a lot of things that supersede this."
Komaromy competed in her first full Ironman in Cambridge in Dorchester County in 2008. She wasn't deterred by the fact that the course was deluged by rain in the days leading up to the race. She wound up finishing "fourth or fifth" among the female entrants and taking home a small amount of prize money.
"That was enough to kind of inspire me to do better," she said.
Initially she had set her sights on qualifying for Kona next year, when she is on the younger end of the 45-49 age range and "I officially become an old lady."
Training for this year's Ironman U.S. Championship required Komaromy to get up around 4 a.m. each day and put in two to three hours of training before work at a local information technology company where she is a projects manager. If she couldn't get in her full workout before work, she had to finish at night.
Greg Safko, who has trained with Komaromy for the past seven years and won a national lottery to participate in (and finished) the 2009 Ironman in Kona, said Komaromy "is the real deal" whose injuries might have derailed the dreams of others with less fortitude.
"She perseveres through all obstacles. She has that indomitable spirit that's necessary to be a participant in the world championships — that's a very elite group," Safko said.
Safko said overcoming injuries is part of being a triathlete, but said of Komaromy, "it's a unique tenacity that she's got. … You have three sports that you have to be able to excel in. ... You have to be able to be very good in two to carry the third. She's as strong as they are."
On weekends, she trains nearly eight hours each day.
"My husband knows he's not going to see me from 6 in the morning until 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon," she said. "My friends ask, 'When are you going to come out with us? Come out and have a cold beer with us.' You've got to put all those things to the side. I'm no saint. I will go and have a few drinks with my friends — you've got to keep your relationships. They definitely take a back seat to what the main goal is."
Komaromy credits her husband with allowing her to do the training.
"He's my cook, he keeps the house in order — not to say that things don't get neglected, they really do," Komaromy said. "My house is a mess, my car is a mess, everything around me has been neglected because of the last few weeks of training. My goal after New York was to clean the house and clean out my car. Now I have to train for Hawaii. All these things are put on the back burner."
Komaromy said she has never wanted to go on vacation in Hawaii, but that going to compete at Kona "has always been my dream."
She and her husband will go out for the Oct. 13 event about three days ahead of time. Komaromy said they plan on taking a well-deserved week's vacation afterward. As for the Ironman itself, Komaromy has mixed feelings.
"I told my husband, 'I want to go out there and I want to enjoy it,'" she said. "I don't want to go out thinking I have to have this great race and throw down these great times. I want to smile; I want to take in the scenery. But I know I kind of don't want to let people down and I have to try to do well."
Steve Komaromy said that the pressure will not just be from the outside.
"Her coming in 100th out of 105 will not be enjoyable for her," he said. "She might not push herself like she did this last race, but she's not going to go out there like it's a walk in the park on Sunday."
The websites for Sue Komaromy's fundraising efforts for melanoma: